Paul and Healing

In my own journey withn the healing ministry, I have found it helpful to examine the miracle ministry of the Apostle Paul. Many of the principles that he learned about healing can be a real encouragement to anyone who wants to pray for the sick today.

Firstly, Paul admits to being nervous when he prayed for the sick. One of my favourite verses is 1 Corinthians 2:4 where Paul says, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power”. However, don’t miss his confession in the sentence before: “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling”. Many times, especially when you start out in praying for the sick, it can be quite a frightening thing to do. Questions of doubt and unworthiness fly through the mind: What happens if they are not healed? Am I doing it right? How can God use someone like me anyway? I wish I could say that these kinds of thoughts only come when you are “a rookie” in healing, but I still battle with them in almost every miracle meeting I do today. Let’s be encouraged though. If Paul could minister healing while “trembling in fear”, then it must be okay for us to be a little timid too.

Secondly, he understood the importance of faith. Telling people that they are sick because they don’t have enough faith is despised by all reputable ministries. But this is not to negate the key role of faith in the healing ministry, both on the part of the one ministering and of the one in need of healing. In Acts 14:8-10, Luke tells us about Paul’s encounter with a lame man with faith at Lystra who was healed. The good news is that we only need a mustard seed sized faith to see something amazing happen and Paul saw this in the Lystran man. For me, there is no better way to release someone’s faith than to pray for them personally and to challenge them to do something that they couldn’t do before. God seems to heal people when they begin to behave like they are going to recover, and part of our job is to encourage them in that! Faith is important. If we are going to pray for the sick, we’ll need to believe our beliefs.

Thirdly, Paul ministered healing while he himself was very ill! He worked wonderful miracles in Galatia (Lystra, Antioch, Iconium and Derbe) but yet he writes in Galatians: “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you” (Galatians 4:13). He goes on to describe this illness as a real trial (verse 14). But, even though he was sick, he continued to see healing in others! I will never forget the night that a man was wonderfully healed in his leg in a small village meeting. It was a real work of God, and the man was able to testify to it many months later to a BBC Radio audience. However, I was brought to that meeting from my own sick bed, and went back to it as soon as we had finished! While in Brazil last year, the relentless schedule and foreign food played havoc with my own health and I was very sick at times, and yet witnessing extraordinary miracles. Paul knew that it really doesn’t matter how we feel, for God is able. Strong or weak, we should pray for the sick. Jesus does the healing, not us!

Finally, Paul had to persevere. He said, “Signs, wonders and miracles were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Corinthians 12:12). Unquestionably the most important thing I have learned about healing is the principle of perseverance. When people don’t immediately recover after prayer, we may be tempted by the thought “Maybe healing them now is not God’s will”, but the certain will of God is to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I am sure Paul continued to pray for his friend Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20) who he left sick. Today, I sometimes pray with people a number of times before they are healed – maybe having a breakthrough the third or fourth time of praying. I don’t know why it is, but if Naaman had to dip seven times in the Jordan to be healed (2 Kings 5:10), it must be okay to pray for people seven (or more) times today! One young man in Britain, crushed by a vehicle, came for prayer and I laid hands on him a few times, but there was no change. A long line of people looked anxiously at me, wanting me to leave him and “come to them”. Ignoring this pressure, I touched this young man one more time. Suddenly, he was healed. Perseverance had its reward, for both of us. Don’t give up on people, or God. Keep praying (Luke 18:1).

So be encouraged by the experience of Paul. Whether timid, weak or struggling with faith, press ahead. Remember, we rely only on His promises!

JOY Magazine, May 2008

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